WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today the arrest of Sean Popejoy, 19, and Frankie Maybee, 20, both of Green Forest, Ark., on charges related to a racially-motivated assault on five Hispanic men. A federal grand jury in the Western District of Arkansas returned an indictment on April 5, 2011, charging Popejoy and Maybee with federal hate crime charges and conspiracy to commit a federal hate crime.
According to the indictment, Popejoy and Maybee have been charged with one count of conspiracy and five counts of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was enacted in October 2009. Specifically, the indictment alleges that on June 20, 2010, the defendants yelled anti-Latino epithets at the victims while at a gas station parking lot. When the victims drove away, the defendants chased after them in the defendants’ truck. The defendants eventually caught up to the victims’ car and repeatedly rammed their truck into the victims’ car, causing the victims’ car to go off the road, overturn and ignite. All five of the victims were physically injured as a result of the defendants’ actions.
If convicted, the defendants face maximum penalties of 10 years in prison on each of the civil rights charges.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Fayetteville Division in cooperation with the Arkansas State Police Department and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner for the Western District of Arkansas and Trial Attorney Edward Chung of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.